Via Fark: Kentucky has found a new way to drive sales of commemorative license plates: create a standard license plate so annoyingly stupid that everyone will pay extra to avoid it. The standard Kentucky plate includes a rather silly looking smiley face; so many people are opting to pay extra to get a special commemorative plate benefiting various charities instead.
December’s unveiling of the “Kentucky: It’s that friendly” plate almost immediately was greeted with hoots and haranguing by some. Letters to The Courier-Journal referred to the plates as “a cartoon,” “a hick plate,” and an “embarrassment.” The smiling sun was referred to by one letter writer as “obnoxious, trite (and) hardly relevant to our natural resources or regional beauty.”
Less than a month after the new plate was unveiled, Gov. Paul Patton was on the defensive, saying he had nothing to do with their design before passing along faint praise.
“They don’t put Rembrandts on the backs of cars,” he said in January.
The plates were designed by a committee comprised of representatives from the Transportation Cabinet, Tourism Development Cabinet, and Governor’s Office. Given the state’s tight budget situation, Patton said a new plate is not possible before the next scheduled redesign in 2008.
Some Kentucky motorists have opted to send a mixed message from their back bumper in connection with the new plates. Among the personalized “it’s that friendly!” plates registered with the state: “GOAWAY,” “GRUMPY,” “ANGRY,” and “MEAN2U.”